Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Roasted chicken with cheese stuffed baked potatoes

This last Sunday, I made roasted chicken and baked potatoes simultaneously in the oven.
I also made steamed green beans on the side, but I did not bother taking pictures of that.  (if you don't know how to steam some green beans, you should be worried!).

I like roasted chicken because its pretty healthy and its not hard.  Its just time consuming!

The way I make roasted chicken is a 2-day process.
Day 1 is when I rub in all the salt and herbs into the meat under the skin.  Don't let anyone tell you that "dry rubs" should only be put on the meat right before cooking.  That is NOT true.
The salt softens the meat and keeps moisture in the meat.  Something about salt attracting water molecules... I don't know, I'm not a science major.  All I know is that this is not a kitchen myth, it's science.

So if you don't want your chicken breast dry, then rub on your salted dry rub the night before.

On Day 2, place your chicken on a roasting rack (breast side down, to catch the juices as it falls), and roast for 20 minutes at 450 degrees, then turn down the temperature to 340 degrees for an additional 40 minutes.  Then turn the chicken over to brown the breast side, and bake for another 30 minutes.

I also baked up several potatoes at the same time as the chicken,  when the oven was at 340 degrees.  I pricked the potatoes with a fork, rubbed on olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper and baked in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

When the potatoes were done baking, I popped each one open and shoved a little pat of butter and reduced fat cheddar cheese .  Voila!  cheesy stuffed potatoes!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fresh seafood at home

When my friend Lucy visited me over 4th of July weekend, we pretty much spent the entire weekend eating.
And that is not an exaggeration.

Over the weekend, we hit up must-have dishes such as ayce korean bbq, pho + com tam, chinese roasted duck and crispy pork, sushi, dim sum, and fresh seafood at home.
These might all sound pricey, but we actually found ways to make the entire weekend very affordable, since we picked affordable places (korean town for kbbq, westminster for vietnamese, monterey park for dim sum, grocery store for duck, pork, and fresh seafood).

I think the best bang for our buck was enjoying the fresh seafood at home.
We went to Ranch99 and purchased live Dungeness crabs, live rock crabs, salmon and tuna sashimi, and live oysters.  The entire bill comes out to no where near the price it would be at a restaurant.  (Lucy so generously paid for the entire bill).

Then we merrily drove home and prepared all our wonderful dishes.
We sent Jeff out to the backyard to shuck oysters while us girls busied ourselves in the kitchen.

Here is the fruits of our labor, and the fruits of the sea:

Jeff shucking oysters
A hammer and screwdriver are not your typical oyster-shucking instruments but it sure got the job done.

Salmon and tuna sashimi, oysters, on a bed of ice
I thinly sliced the sashimi myself and overworked my fridge to get the crushed ice!
I should run my own 5 star restaurant.

Steamed Crabs
 I steamed these bad boys in my incredibly fobby 3-tiered steamer

The entire spread
I blame jeff for constantly arranging the dining chairs as 3 seats per side,
rather than my preferred method of 2 seats per side and 1 on each end

Our lovely house guest

I normally don't eat a lot of seafood and shellfish, because, not only is it pricey and makes terrible leftovers, but I also don't want to get mercury poisoning.
However, for this meal, if I got mercury poisoning, it would definitely be worth it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chunky Vegetable Beef Stew (slow cooker)

Notice that I put the word "vegetable' before "beef" in the name of my dish: Chunky Vegetable Beef Stew?
That's because this stew has way more veggies than beef.  YUM!

I knows its summer time, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy stew.
Also... using the slow cooker is just way more convenient :).
When I stop working (in 3 weeks), I expect less slow cooker meals and more elaborate meals!

This stew is so hearty and so tasty, and I barely had to use any seasoning!  All the flavor is simply the natural flavor from all the vegetables and beef.

1 large onion. chopped.
6 carrots, cut into coins.  (I used small carrots.  But you can use half the amount if you have large carrots)
4 potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 cup of chopped celery
1/2 cup fresh green beans, in bite-size pieces.  (I would have used more but string beans were crappy at the store)
2 pounds beef, cut into small cubes.  Just use whatever beef is on sale, like stewing beef.
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups low-sodium beef stock
4 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Put everything in the slow cooker, except put only 3 tbps of the flour in the slow cooker.  
Cook on high for 5 hours.
Using some of the soup, put some in a bowl and mix tog3ether the other 3 tbps of flour, and pour it into the stew, then continue cooking the stew for an additional 30 mins - 1 hour.


Egg-dipped bread = french toast?

I have heard some people call "egg dipped bread" or "eggy bread" as "French Toast".

I am not entirely sure if this is true, because the only French Toast that I know is bread that is dipped in a batter consisting of egg, milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon.  Fried in a skillet then consumed with some butter and syrup. :)
Egg-dipped bread is pretty much what it sounds like: bread dipped in beaten eggs, fried in a skillet, and eaten just like that.

Just to keep things clear, I will refer to these dishes by their separate names to avoid confusion.
I love French Toast, however, Egg-dipped bread holds a very special place in my heart.
I remember when I was very very young (younger than age 7), my mom would occasionally make egg-dipped bread in the morning.  This was very rare, because we typically had cold food for breakfast (pb &j sandwiches, cereal and milk), so having a hot breakfast was such a treat.  On top of that, I really love eggs, so anything with eggs in it was very special to me.

I can still remember crawling out of bed and smelling the scent of egg-dipped bread wafting through the house on a sunny weekend morning.

Now as an adult, I find myself also rarely ever having egg-dipped bread since eating a quick piece of toast in morning is just so much easier.

Today at the store, lots of loaves of french bread was sitting by the cash registers (ugh. how dare they tempt me with their impulse buys, and get away with it).
I purchased a loaf, sliced it up into 1 inch slices, dipped the bread into a beaten egg wash (I beaten an entire dozen of eggs!), and fried it up on a skillet.

I can't wait to eat them.

Creamy Cheesecake

Its been so long since I've had cheesecake, that I thought that it wouldn't be too naughty of me to make some cheesecake!

Usually, when I search for cheesecake recipes online, I always end up finding some recipe that uses sour cream, which I hate.
I have finally (after several attempts) perfected my own version of cheese cake that does not use sour cream.
It comes out so rich and creamy.
    1 cup graham cracker crumbs
    3 tablespoons sugar
    3 tablespoons margarine, melted

    3 (8 ounce) packages Cream cheese/American Neufch√Ętel cheese, softened
    3/4 cup white sugar
    3 large eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    1 Preheat oven to 325F degrees.
    2 Combine crumbs, sugar and melted margarine and press onto the bottom of a pie pan.
    3 Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and raise oven temperature to 450F degrees.
    4 To make filling, combine softened cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer, beating at medium speed until well mixed.
    5 Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition; blend in vanilla then pour into crust.
    6 Bake for 10 minutes at 450F, then reduce heat to 250F and for 60 minutes more, or until the center is no longer watery.
    7 Let the cheesecake cool at room temperature then place into the refrigerator until the cheesecake is chilled

I don't have a picture of the entire cheesecake because we dug right in before having a chance to take a photo!